Sierra Streams Institute on YouTube: Interview with Chairman Richard Johnson of Nisenan Tribe

Nisenan Tribe back to square one after losing federal recognition lawsuit

The Nisenan Tribe, one of the many victims of the disastrous termination policy, is still fighting to regain federal recognition.

As part of the historic Tillie Hardwick litigation, 17 tribes in California were restored to federal recognition. Despite being included in the original complaint, the Nisenan Tribe, also known as the Nevada City Rancheria, was left out of the final judgment due to an unknown "clerical" error.

The tribe eventually went to court to address the oversight. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a May 2016 decision, ruled that the lawsuit was filed far too late after the closing of the Hardwick case in 1983.

The tribe subsequently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the matter. The petition in Nevada City Rancheria v. Jewell was denied without explanation in an January 2017 order, putting an end to the case.

The tribe isn't giving up hope, though. Efforts are focusing on Congress, which has the power to rescind a termination law, VICE reported.

“My personal goal is to be represented,” Michael Ramirez, a young tribal citizen, told VICE. “To look around and see faces like mine. In a utopian future, I won’t have to explain to people that, ‘Yeah, I exist—I’m still here.’”

Read More on the Story:
The California Tribe the Government Tried to Erase in the 60s (VICE January 17, 2018)

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Nisenan Tribe v. Jewell (May 25, 2016)

Join the Conversation